Katsav Prison Sentence Delayed Until Hearing on Request for Longer Postponement

Katsav was sentenced last month to seven years in jail after being found guilty of rape and other sexual offenses; appeal hearing to take place within days.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday delayed the start of disgraced former president Moshe Katsav's jail sentence for rape until a ruling is reached on his request for a longer postponement, which will be heard next Wednesday.

Katsav, who was convicted on two counts of rape for indecent assault and sexual harassment of female employees, appealed the ruling against him this week.

Katsav Tel Aviv 22.3.11 Reuters

The former president was sentenced last month to seven years in jail after being found guilty of rape and other sexual offenses. He was supposed to start serving his sentence on Sunday, May 8, 2011.

The court also ruled that Katsav must in addition to his jail sentence, serve two years of probation and pay NIS 100,000 to his rape victim, a former employee of the Tourism Ministry known as A., and pay NIS 25,000 to L., a former employee of the President's Residence, whom he sexually harassed and abused.

Katsav is challenging the ruling of the Tel Aviv District Court which found him guilty. He is expected to argue that in its unequivocal ruling, the court ignored entirely any doubts, mostly about the claims of the main plaintiff, A., and also the difficulties in evidence, which led to serious disagreements among senior figures in the State Prosecutor's Office.

In the appeal, the defense team for Katsav is expected to the argument that their client was convicted in the media before his trial began. This will probably be based on the minority view of Judge Yehudit Shevach, who wrote that Katsav should have been sentenced to only four years in jail in view of the damage he sustained as a result of the media coverage and the conduct of the State Prosecutor's Office.

Experts say Katsav's appeal has a slim chance of success as the Supreme Court does not normally interfere in the factual conclusions of the District Court, or make decisions concerning the credibility of witnesses.

The fact that the conviction was decided unanimously by a panel of three judges will also make it difficult for Katsav to advance his argument.